Archive for the ‘Biz’Category

Squeeze Page Templates: Using WordPress for Squeeze Pages

WordPress is good for making squeeze pages (websites designed to encourage the extraction of the viewer’s email address and/or credit card numbers). You could set up static HTML to make your squeeze pages, but with WordPress’s plugin system you can get analytics, A/B testing, and other fun stuff up and running quickly. And whenever you need to modify your sales copy, there’s no need to dig through website code — you just edit the Page in WordPress.

Here are a few WordPress squeeze page templates I dug up around the web, along with how much they cost. Bonus: we learn a little about copywriting and keyword research along the way.

WordPress Squeeze Page Templates

Free WordPress Squeeze Page Theme Cost: your email address. (Of course!)

Notice they’re all named pretty much the same thing, because people who make squeeze pages are usually trying to claim search engine traffic for keyword phrases that, you know, actually get searched a lot.

WordPress Squeeze Pages Cost: $47

They all pretty much look the same, too, because they’re following the patterns laid down by guys like Frank Kern, Ed Dale, Mike Filsaime, and Joe Vitale, who have made millions with their copywriting.

WordPress Squeeze Page Cost: $10

The above will get the job done, I’m sure. But this one’s my favorite:

A humble but very good looking squeeze page template by CEA Web Solutions. Cost: Totally and completely free.

How to Run Squeeze Pages in WordPress

The disadvantage of using WordPress for squeeze pages is the performance hit. Each time the page loads, you’re running the whole WordPress engine to generate the page…

…unless you don’t! This is where a plugin like W3 Total Cache really shines. Since you’re just serving up the exact same page every time, with little to no dynamic content whatsoever, you’ll get all the benefits of WordPress with almost no downsides when you configure your squeeze page site to use W3 Total Cache.

But still make sure you install the site on a reasonably fast web host, one that can handle a lot of web traffic. If you’ve studied your target keyword traffic well, you should have a good grasp on the actual numbers you’ll need to handle.


08 2011

BoingBoing Goes WordPress

The venerable pop culture blog Boing Boing, over 15 years old as a website, has just converted to WordPress (from MovableType). For those of us who have been watching the blog engine wars since pre-2000 (and written blog engines of our own), that’s a pretty swell endorsement!

The “new” website looks exactly like the website running its previous engine — which just goes to show, WordPress themes can easily encompass the feature set, graphics, and layout of just about any type of website.

Boing Boing Screenshot 7-27-2011

Only one apparent difference between the old and the new: threaded comments! No more in-line comments where replies have to reference “Commenter #5″. That’s a net win if you ask me.


07 2011

How to Create a WordPress Theme Demo Site

Sometimes you want to give a remote client a few different options for the same website, and you don’t want to do a lot of back-and-forth with them about it. Besides, some variations are super quick to make but much slower to explain. A demonstration is in order!

The goal is to allow the client to go to the site and sift through several different theme choices that you make available.

The first step is to set up a separate WordPress site for this purpose. You could use the client’s own website if it’s not yet “live”, but I would advise using one of your own properties, making sure to un-tick the checkbox for “Make my site searchable by Google, Technorati, etc.”

(By the way, setting up WordPress itself is outside the scope of any of my articles; if you’re reading my blog, you’re probably pretty well beyond that.)

I have a “site layout demo” set up on a subdomain of (with its own WordPress installation, not a WP multisite sort of thing).

Next, install the themes you’ll be making available. If it’s variations on one theme, make sure they’re all different folders in the /wp-content/themes directory and that their meta-information in style.css contains different names from one another (otherwise your client’s going to be choosing from a maze of twisty themes, all named alike). Choose one to Activate, and then you’re done with that step.

Now we’re going to grab two excellent plugins that save us a hell of a lot of time.

The first is WP Example Content. This handy-dandy plugin allows you to deploy dummy content containing all of the typography gymnastics the client is likely to want to check out. Thoughtfully, the plugin gives you a button to instantly retract and make disappear these content-less posts and plugins at a moment’s notice.

The second plugin we want is Theme Switcher Reloaded, which provides a widget that creates a list of themes available for the website viewer to switch between.

The sad thing, though, is that when you load in a different theme, you lose your widget options and can no longer see the Theme Switcher Reloaded list in the new theme’s sidebar. Whoops!

Now you have two options. You could deploy the following code into every sidebar.php of every theme you’re displaying (changing html tags as appropriate):
<?php if (function_exists(‘wp_theme_switcher’)) { ?>
<h3><?php _e(‘Themes’); ?></h3>
<?php wp_theme_switcher(‘dropdown’); ?>
<?php } ?>

OR… You could create a Page that functions as a makeshift Theme Switcher:

Configure the widget on one of the themes and then go load the site in a browser. The list of theme choices will show up in the sidebar (like you told it to do!). Do a control-U to look at the HTML source of the resultant page, and look for the list of theme choices. You’re scouting for an unordered list that has a lot of the following string in its links:


So now copy everything between the two UL tags, and abscond with it to the site’s dashboard, where you will create a new Page or Post. Paste the pilfered HTML in, hit publish, and voila! You’ve got a “theme switcher” that sticks around between themes.

I went one better and set this new Page to be the content that displays when the root site is loaded. That way it’s always obvious where to find the site layout options.

And that’s it! That’s basically all you need to do to set up a theme demo site within the span of 15 minutes.

Did you find this post useful? Have you done something like this before? Do you think you have a better idea, punk? Let me know!


06 2011

Search Engine Optimization is Trivial (Link Building is Not)

A very significant portion of the WordPress consulting I do revolves around getting the new website noticed by search engine users. So in my consulting, the topic of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes up often.

The common perception seems to be that SEO-ing a website is a difficult or tricky process, and that there’s an inordinate amount of stuff to learn to get it right.

Well, it’s not. SEO is trivial. Read the rest of this entry →


05 2011

What Should a Business Website Cost?Generic Lasix

The Globe and Mail published a business-oriented article today called “No Website Means It’s Time to Get to Work.” The gist: if your business, no matter how small, doesn’t have a web presence, UR DOIN IT WRONG.

In this day and age, when the first place people turn when searching for services of all kinds is the Internet, there’s no good excuse not to have a website. You may think your business is “too local” or too “real world” for it to matter — but, in fact, with the rise of Google Local, these aspects make it even more crucial that you get your web presence set up with all appropriate search engine optimization for your market in your region.

But what should a website cost? Article author Mark Evans says:

A small but solid website with a good design should cost about $5,000 . . .

And this does jibe with my own findings. If you want “good design”, you will need to spend at least $2500 on it. You’ll spend another $500 or so finding the right designer for your brand. And then another $2000 or so on the expertise to turn that pretty custom design into a working website.

But what if you aren’t concerned with having a “good design”, and simply want a decent-looking website that’s easy to update? And, more importantly, noticed by search engine users?

This is where WordPress really shines. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of gorgeous professionally created WordPress themes out there costing no more than $150. Find one you like, and you’re halfway there. Then pair yourself up with a WordPress consultant who will take the time to understand how best to customize the template for your business, and you will come in far under that $5000 website estimate.

It’s important to note that the Globe and Mail’s $5000 “good design” website isn’t going to cover any sort of SEO (search engine optimization) to attract traffic to your website. If a website is indexed by Google but nobody sees it, is it really on the internet?

And if $5000 is a costly outlay for you in these tight times, you’ll find yourself choosing between “pretty” and “visible on search engines”.

Fortunately, getting noticed by search engine users looking for niche market and local businesses doesn’t have to cost nearly as much as a “good design” — and will reap you much better returns.


01 2011